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Raining smartphones

July 31, 2012

THERE is little chance of it being phony news after it was confirmed by the managing director of the Water and Sanitation Agency (Wasa) in Lahore. Wasa has given the PML-N members of the Punjab Assembly from the city smartphones for the monsoon. The MPAs will use these gadgets to monitor the puddles and more seriously, the dreaded dengue larvae the rainwater could harbour. The Wasa MD’s explanation that these telephones can be used only for relaying images — of the troubled spots — and not for conversing, should be taken as a comment on the limits placed on the worthy recipients rather than one on the functions of these expensive smartphones.

This is hardly earthshaking news, even if some old-fashioned reporters condemned to wading through the monsoon in the past are bent upon linking the smartphones to Wasa’s weak financial position. It is but a small addition to the computerised ‘laptopia’ that is in the process of being built in Punjab, of which, as ever, beloved Lahore happens to be the prime venue. What’s more, an MPA has already gone on television to assure the mobile phones will be returned to Wasa after the rains have passed and the larvae destroyed upon identification by lawmakers. If anything, this is a kind of restoration of the MPAs in a city where, for long, the most accurate sign of governmental efforts has been the one placed by an under-construction bridge on Ferozepur Road: ‘Man at work.’ However, Wasa, the resource-starved but wealthy patron of MPAs, may get more than it bargained for, with MPAs sure to want to be seen in an election season to be active and on-the-job. Some residents of Lahore may well wonder though: have their MPAs got nothing better to do than doing Wasa’s job for it?